Will an Israeli-Palestinian industrial zone be built in Gaza?

Efforts are being made to build an industrial zone for Gazan workers in Israeli territory.

 Palestinians arrive to cross into Gaza at the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza on September 3, 2015. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Palestinians arrive to cross into Gaza at the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza on September 3, 2015.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Is Arazim - the name of the industrial area shared by Israel and Gaza - really about to happen? Maariv learned that in recent weeks a significant planning phase has been completed that examined the feasibility of establishing an industrial zone - in Israeli territory, near the ruins of the Erez industrial zone, which Israel demolished in 2004 prior to the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

The plan to establish an industrial zone, which will include Israeli factories and workers from Gaza - which has not yet been discussed by the government - is being promoted, among other things, by the heads of local councils in the Gaza border communities, and the IDF has been heavily involved in the planning in recent years. After completing the planning and staffing processes and completing the examination of the applicability of the plan, the political echelon will be required to make a decision.

According to various estimates, it will be possible to employ thousands of workers in the planned industrial area. Meanwhile, with regard to the movement of merchants from the Gaza Strip, the data available to the defense establishment show that after setting the quota at 10,000 merchants who can enter daily, the entry of more than 7,000 citizens in Gaza who have a permit and leave for Israel has already been approved.

A PALESTINIAN POLICE officer gestures as he stands next to a truck carrying clothes for export at the Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Monday. (credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)A PALESTINIAN POLICE officer gestures as he stands next to a truck carrying clothes for export at the Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Monday. (credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

Although officially these are supposed to be merchants, the vast majority are employed as workers, including workers in agriculture who, after 15 years of disengagement, returned to work in the fields of kibbutzim in Gaza border communities. The defense establishment is now seeking to regulate permits for workers as well.

In any case, as there is no sign of progress on the issue of hostages and missing persons, the government will in the near future be required to decide how far it is willing to go with economic initiatives to improve the economic situation in Gaza. This, in an attempt to stabilize the security situation - even without progress in negotiations on other issues.